Code of Silence Over Ethics Review

Dogged by controversies involving PR companies, the 2200-member Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), has initiated a review of its code of ethics. Trouble is, some of those who have pushed for just such a review know precious little about it. Keith Jackson, chairman of Jackson Wells Morris (one of Australia's top 10 PR firms), resigned in protest from the PRIA in August, saying it had "stonewalled" his efforts to establish an ethics review that would make the industry "operate in a more open and accountable way." Now it turns out that the PRIA has initiated an ethics review, but the only parties privy to its deliberations are the PRIA's secretive "College of Fellows." Jackson argues that an ethics review behind closed doors will fail to address "the real problems" within the industry, "like astro-turfing, conflicts of interest, disinformation and what I call black spin -- the lies and the half truths around situations which are deliberately put out."